Alcohol Effects



Alcohol Effects in the news

Rwanda: Concerted Efforts Needed Against Alcohol in Schools - Jan 02 7:17 AM
According to Wechsler H. Binge's Drinking on American College Campuses: A New Look at an Old Problem. Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 1995, there is little or no doubt that alcohol use has a damaging effect on academic performance of our children.
Sex and the single malt scotch 
Vancouver Province - Jan 02 6:45 AM
Women are at a disadvantage when it comes to the negative effects of alcohol, and it's more than just relative weight differences. Biological differences also mean women pay a higher price for overindulging than men.

Drunken New Year underlines our trouble with alcohol 
icWales - Jan 01 11:47 PM
EMERGENCY services were left reeling after one of the busiest New Year's Eves in history, with both police and paramedics dashing to hundreds of alcohol-related incidents.

Drink for the (Hangover) Cure 
Port Folio Weekly - 1 hour, 2 minutes ago
OK. We all know that there really isn’t a cure for a hangover. Oh, there are some things we can do to moderate the effects: aspirin, lots of water, an ice bag on the head, greasy food. The list goes on and on. If you can make it to 4 p.m. without expiring, you’ll be all right.

- Acohol Effects

Here is an article on Alcohol Effects.

The relationship between alcohol consumption and health has been the subject of formal scientific research since at least 1926, Alchol Effects when Dr. Raymond Pearl published his book, Alcohol and Longevity, in which he reported his finding Acohol Effects that drinking alcohol in moderation was associated Alochol Effects with greater longevity than either abstaining or drinking heavily.[1] Subsequently, various studies have examined the health effects of different degrees of alcoholic beverage Alchool Effects consumption ([2][3] Rimm et al., Trevisan et al.). While it is widely recognized Alohol Effects that alcoholism has negative health effects, moderate consumption, frequently defined as the consumption of 1-4 alcoholic drinks in a day Alcohl Effects (depending on the age and Alcoho Effects gender of the subjects) has been found in some research to have a positive effect Aclohol Effects on longevity[4] (Doll & Peto). See Alcoholic beverages — recommended maximum Alcohool Effects intake for a list of governments' guidances on alcohol Alcphol Effects intake which, for a man, range from 165–280g per week.

However, research suggests that benefits of moderate alcohol Alcohil Effects consumption may not be large enough or certain enough to recommend to those Alcoholl Effects who do not already drink, even if not contraindicated. There Alcoohl Effects is a concern that doing so might lead to symptoms of alcoholism in those who previously Allcohol Effects did not imbibe or that those who drink heavily would interpret the advice as support for heavy drinking.[5][6] Dr. Tim Naimi and others at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speaks widely concerning the supposed benefits of moderate alcohol intake, pointing out that the research designs that have led to such conclusions are not generally indicative of a cause and effect. [7]


  • 1 Background
    • 1.1 Physiological effects of ethanol
      • 1.1.1 Alcohol production in the body
  • 2 Overall longevity
  • 3 Heart and circulatory diseases
  • 4 Stroke
  • 5 Cancer
  • 6 Obesity
  • 7 Brain development
  • 8 Diseases of the liver
  • 9 Gastritis and bacterial contamination
  • 10 Alzheimer's disease
  • 11 Pancreatitis
  • 12 Cognition
  • 13 Other diseases
  • 14 Issues
    • 14.1 Health effect and type of alcohol consumed
    • 14.2 Recommending alcohol consumption to "teetotalers"
    • 14.3 Comparison with health benefits of exercise and diet
  • 15 See also
  • 16 References
  • 17 External links


Research extending back as far as 1926 has demonstrated that drinking in moderation is associated with greater longevity than is either abstaining or abusing alcohol.[1]

One possible explanation is the effect of alcohol on cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of mortality in the United States and many other industrialized countries. This has been studied since 1904.[8]

Physiological effects of ethanol

Medical research demonstrates that, consumed in moderation, alcohol increases HDL (“good cholesterol”), decreases thrombosis (blood clotting), reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotter), increases fibrinolysis (clot dissolving), reduces artery spasm from stress, increases coronary blood flow and increases insulin sensitivity -- all good for heart health[9][10] (Rimm; Zhang).

Alcohol production in the body

It is inevitable that all humans always have some amount of alcohol in their bodies at all times, even if they never drink alcoholic beverages in their lives. This is because of a process called endogenous ethanol production. Many of the bacteria in the intestines use alcohol fermentation as a form of respiration. This metabolic method produces alcohol as a waste product, in the same way that metabolism results in the formation of carbon dioxide and water. Thus, human bodies always contain some quantity of alcohol produced by these benign bacteria.

Overall longevity

Studies support the finding that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with benefits in longevity because of reductions in coronary heart disease, stroke, and some other diseases [11] [9] [12] [13][14] [15] [16](Wang & Barker) .[17] Proposed mechanisms of these benefits include the effect of alcohol on cholesterol levels, insulin activity, blood pressure, and the chemistry of blood clotting. Frequently, such studies qualify these findings with admonitions against heavy alcohol consumption or abuse, due to the negative health effects often associated with this behavior.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed an extensive review of current scientific knowledge about the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. It found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks per day. That is, moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity.[18][19]

Research in various countries has found the all-cause mortality rates range from 16 to 28% lower among moderate drinkers than among abstainers [20] [21][22][23] (Yuan).

The medical studies establishing this relationship are large (some include over 200,000 people), cross-cultural (have been conducted in countries around the world), and are sometimes long-term (the longest beginning in 1948 and continuing to this day).[24]

To test the hypothesis that the results may reflect the poor health of alcoholics who now abstain, some studies have restricted the abstainers studied to lifelong teetotalers. Others have controlled for lifestyle factors, income levels, educational levels and other factors. The results have remained the same: moderate drinkers tend to live longer than abstainers or heavy drinkers.[25] Other studies contradict this view.[26]

A 23-year prospective study of 12,000 male British physicians aged 48–78, found that overall mortality was significantly lower in the group consuming an average of 2–3 "units" (unit = 8g) per day than in the non-alcohol-drinking group (relative risk 0.81, confidence interval 0.76-0.87, P = 0.001).[27] The authors noted that the causes of death that are already known to be augmentable by alcohol accounted for only 5% of the deaths (1% liver disease, 2% cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, or oesophagus, and 2% external causes of death) and were significantly elevated only among men consuming >2 units/day.

In a 1996 American Heart Association scientific statement, Thomas A. Pearson, MD, Ph.D noted, "A large number of observational studies have consistently demonstrated a U-shaped relation between alcohol consumption and total mortality. This relation appears to hold in men and women who are middle aged or older. The lowest mortality occurs in those who consume one or two drinks per day. In teetotalers or occasional drinkers, the rates are higher than in those consuming one or two drinks per day. In persons who consume three or more drinks per day, total mortality climbs rapidly with increasing numbers of drinks per day."

Heart and circulatory diseases

Main article: Alcohol and cardiovascular disease

The World Health Organization Technical Committee on Cardiovascular Disease asserted that the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced death from heart disease could no longer be doubted.[28] Consumption of red wine may be particularly favourable, since red wines contain certain polyphenol antioxidants associated with cardiovascular health.

Pearson reviewed the evidence supporting the effect of alcohol consumption on coronary heart disease (CHD): "More than a dozen prospective studies have demonstrated a consistent, strong, dose-response relation between increasing alcohol consumption and decreasing incidence of CHD. The data are similar in men and women in a number of different geographic and ethnic groups. Consumption of one or two drinks per day is associated with a reduction in risk of approximately 30% to 50%. Studies of coronary narrowings defined by cardiac catheterization or autopsy show a reduction in atherosclerosis in persons who consume moderate amounts of alcohol. In general, the inverse association is independent of potential confounders, such as diet and cigarette smoking. Concerns that the association could be an artifact due to cessation of alcohol consumption in persons who already have CHD have largely been disproved."[29]

Other studies cast doubt on this hypothesis.[30]

  • Angina Pectoris (Myocardial Infarction). Moderate drinking has been found to reduce the risk of angina pectoris.[31]
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (Peripheral Vascular Disease – PAD). "Moderate alcohol consumption appears to decrease the risk of PAD in apparently healthy men.".[32] "In this large population-based study, moderate alcohol consumption was inversely associated with peripheral arterial disease in women but not in men. Residual confounding by smoking may have influenced the results. Among nonsmokers an inverse association was found between alcohol consumption and peripheral arterial disease in both men and women."[33][34]
  • Thrombosis (formation of undesirable blood clots anywhere in the body) is lower among moderate drinkers than teetotalers. (Lacoste, L. et al. Acute and delayed antithrombotic effects of alcohol in humans. American Journal of Cardiology, 2001, 87, 82-85; Pahor, M., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in older persons. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 1996, 44(9), 1030-1037; Ridker, P., et al. Moderate alcohol intake may reduce risk of thrombosis. American Medical Association press release, September 22, 1994; Ridker, P. The Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis and Acute Thrombosis . In: Manson, J., et al. (Eds.) Prevention of Myocardial Infarction. NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.)

In heart attack patients who are treated with alcohol, the tissues affected by low blood flow are healthier and stronger than those who receive no alcohol because of alcohol's positive effects on artery walls [2]. Similarly, drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may help patients recover from coronary stenting. Healing appears to be promoted by the inflammation inhibiting effects of alcohol. (Zairis, M.N., et al. C Reactive protein, moderate alcohol consumption, and long term prognosis after successful coronary stenting: four year results from the GENERATION study. Heart, 2004, 90, 419-424.)

The cardiovascular effects of alcohol are not all beneficial, however; studies show that large-quantiy consumption of alcohol can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, commonly known as "holiday heart syndrome." Alcoholic cardiomyopathy presents in a manner clinically identical to idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, involving hypertrophy of the musculature of the heart that can lead to a form of cardiac arrythmia. These electrical anomales, represented on an EKG, often vary in nature, but range from nominal changes of the PR, QRS, or QT intervals to paroxsysmal episodes of ventricular tachycardia. The pathophysiology of "holiday heart syndrome" has not been firmly identified, but certain hypotheses cite an increased secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine, increased sympathetic output, or a rise in the level of plasma free fatty acids as possible mechanisms. [35]


Compared to abstaining, drinking in moderation is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, whereas abusing alcohol is associated with an increased risk of stroke.[36]

A study of over 22,000 male physicians aged 40-84 years old over an average of 12 years, concluded, "Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the overall risk of stroke and the risk of ischemic stroke in men. The benefit is apparent with as little as one drink per week. Greater consumption, up to one drink per day, does not increase the observed benefit."[37]

A meta-analysis of 35 previous studies of the effect of alcohol consumption on stroke risk found that "compared with abstainers, consumption of more than 60 g of alcohol per day (i.e., over four standard drinks -- heavy drinking) was associated with an increased relative risk of total stroke, 1.64 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.39-1.93); ischemic stroke, 1.69 (95% CI, 1.34-2.15); and hemorrhagic stroke, 2.18 (95% CI, 1.48-3.20), while consumption of less than 12 g/d was associated with a reduced relative risk of total stroke, 0.83 (95%, CI, 0.75-0.91) and ischemic stroke, 0.80 (95% CI, 0.67-0.96), and consumption of 12 to 24 g/d was associated with a reduced relative risk of ischemic stroke, 0.72 (95%, CI, 0.57-0.91). The meta-regression analysis revealed a significant nonlinear relationship between alcohol consumption and total and ischemic stroke and a linear relationship between alcohol consumption and hemorrhagic stroke."[38]


Main article: Alcohol and cancer

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ National Toxicology Program listed alcohol as a known carcinogen in 2000.[39] The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that "Although there is no evidence that alcohol itself is a carcinogen, alcohol may act as a cocarcinogen by enhancing the carcinogenic effects of other chemicals. For example, studies indicate that alcohol enhances tobacco's ability to stimulate tumor formation in rats (Garro & Lieber). In humans, the risk for mouth, tracheal, and esophageal cancer is 35 times greater for people who both smoke and drink than for people who neither smoke nor drink (Blot et al.), implying a cocarcinogenic interaction between alcohol and tobacco-related carcinogens (Garro & Lieber)."[40]

The NIAAA states that "Although epidemiologic studies have found a clear association between alcohol consumption and development of certain types of cancer, study findings are often inconsistent and may vary by country and by type of cancer."[40]

  • Kidney cancer (Renal cell carcinoma) (RCC): "Results from our prospective cohort study of middle-aged and elderly women indicate that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with decreased risk of RCC."[41] Another study concludes, "These findings suggest an inverse association of alcohol consumption and RCC development among women but not among men."[42] However, another study concludes, "No significant relationship emerged, nor any differences between the sexes."[43]
  • Thyroid cancer: "In interview data from the U.S.A.'s Third National Cancer Survey, alcohol ingestion was associated with a higher occurrence of cancers of the breast, thyroid, and malignant melanoma. Data from other studies support the first two associations."[44] Another study suggests that drinking in moderation significantly reduces the risk of some malignant tumors such as thyroid cancer in women.[45] However, another study concludes, "A reduced risk associated with alcohol was eliminated after adjustment for smoking…".[46]
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A review of findings from nine international studies suggests that drinking alcohol reduces the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) by 27%. The protective effect of alcohol did not vary by beverage type. "People who drink alcoholic beverages might have a lower risk of NHL than those who do not, and this risk might vary by NHL subtype. Further study designs are needed to determine whether confounding lifestyle factors or immunomodulatory effects of alcohol explain this association.".[47]

Chronic heavy abuse of alcohol increases risk of certain cancers. "Considerable evidence suggests a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and increased risk for cancer, with an estimated 2 to 4 percent of all cancer cases thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol (Rothman)" indicates the NIAAA.[40]

Drinking alcohol, especially along with smoking, increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx and liver, and of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Except for breast cancer, these cancers are all rare (NIAAA). Moderate consumption doesn’t significantly increase the risk of the most common cancers, except for breast cancer. Also, an exhaustive review of the research evidence has found that women who drink alcohol and have a high folate intake have no more risk of breast cancer than those who abstain from alcohol[48][49][50][51]

The moderate consumption of alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, decreases the risk of some others, and is unrelated to the incidence of most forms of cancer.


Main article: Alcohol and weight

Contrary to common belief, drinking alcohol does not necessarily lead to weight gain. Most research studies find no increase in body weight, some find an increase, and some find a small decrease among women who begin consuming alcohol (references for this statement are listed in Alcohol and weight). Some of these studies are very large; one involved nearly 80,000 and another included 140,000 subjects.

A study of 14 male subjects concluded that "In free-living subjects over a 6-week period, the addition of two glasses of red wine to the evening meal does not appear to influence any measured variable which may adversely affect body weight or promote the development of obesity during this time period."[52]

A Mayo clinic study of 8,236 men and women found that people who had one or two alcoholic drinks a day were about half as likely to be obese than teetotalers. (Arif, A. A. & Rohrer, J. E. Patterns of Alcohol Drinking and its Association with Obesity: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. BMC Public Health, 2005 5 December), (5), 126.)

Brain development

Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a period of time can impair normal brain development in both rats and humans. Research is lacking on the possible brain effects of light or moderate alcohol consumption among young humans. "Deficits in retrieval of verbal and nonverbal information and in visuospatial functioning were evident in youths with histories of heavy drinking during early and middle adolescence."[53] "Heavy, chronic drinking appears to produce adverse neural effects that are detectable by functional magnetic resonance imaging."[54] "The data suggest that CIE [chronic-intermittent ethanol] exposure during adolescence has a lasting impact on sensitivity to ethanol-induced motor impairments. This effect might stem from a disruption of normal developmental processes."[55]

Abstinence from chronic alcohol consumption encourages new brain cell development, according to a study.[56]

Diseases of the liver

Main article: Alcoholic liver disease
  • Roughly one in four people that consume more than three drinks per day during a period of ten to fifteen years will experience some level of alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Alcohol is one cause of cirrhosis.

Gastritis and bacterial contamination

"The link between alcohol use and chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation) is clear, although progression from chronic gastritis to neoplasia is less well understood and probably involves other factors in addition to alcohol."[57] [58]

Drinking strong alcoholic beverages with a meal may offer some protection against bacterial contamination. "The antibacterial activity of red and white wine against enteropathogens may protect against bacterial diarrhoea in a similar way to bismuth salicylate. This protective effect helps explain wine's legendary reputation as a digestive aid."[59] "Limited data indicate that drinking alcoholic beverages along with eating food contaminated with Shigella or Salmonella decreases the risk and/or the severity of illness. … During an oyster-borne outbreak of hepatitis A, we studied the effect of ingestion of alcoholic beverages concomitant with consumption of contaminated oysters. … After controlling for potential confounders, we found a protective effect for beverages that have an alcohol concentration of greater than or equal to 10% (odds ratio = 0.1, 95% confidence interval = 0.02-0.9), but not for beverages with an alcohol concentration of less than 10% (odds ratio = 0.7, 95% confidence interval = 0.2-2.9)."[60]

Alzheimer's disease

Studies have found the risks of Alzheimer's disease to be as much as 75% lower among drinkers than among teetotalers. "Regular consumers of alcohol, including those drinking above and below the USDA recommended limits of 1.0 drinks/day for women and 2.0 drinks/day for men, had a significantly lower risk of AD [Alzheimer's Disease] compared to non-drinkers (crude OR's of 0.67 for consumers within the recommended guidelines and 0.48 for alcohol consumption above). … Alcohol consumption within nationally recommended limits may protect against AD. However, it would be premature to recommend this as a prophylaxis until the protective mechanism is understood and further studies are performed to more precisely define the minimal level and duration of exposure necessary to realize a benefit."[61] In subjects drinking 3 to 4 standard glasses per day (> 250 and up to 500 ml), categorized as moderate drinkers, the odds ratio (OR) was 0.19 for incident dementia and 0.28 for Alzheimer's disease, as compared to the 971 non-drinkers. In the 922 mild drinkers (< 1 to 2 glasses per day), there was a negative association only with AD [Alzheimer's Disease], after adjustment (OR = 0.55). "Advising all elderly people to drink wine regularly for prevention of dementia would be however premature at this stage.".[62]


Alcohol consumption is a major cause of pancreatitis, in both its chronic and acute forms.


Research finds an association between better cognition or thinking ability and moderate drinking. "After adjustment for age, education, and smoking status, men with CVD/diabetes and low-to-moderate alcohol intake had a significantly lower risk for poor cognitive function (MMSE < or = 25) than abstainers (odds ratios of 0.3 for less than one drink and 0.2 for one to two drinks per day). Alcohol intake was not associated with cognitive decline. … Alcohol may result in an acute beneficial effect on cognitive function among those with CVD/diabetes. However, selection bias and unmeasured confounding should be of concern when evaluating these results."[63] "We report a positive association between moderate alcohol intake among middle-aged men and subsequent cognitive performance in later life. However, it is possible that the health risks associated with drinking outweight any potential benefits for many elderly persons."[64] "These findings suggest that, among women, moderate alcohol consumption may have a beneficial effect on cognitive function."[65] "… although a number of studies have noted a measurable diminution in neuropsychologic parameters in habitual consumers of moderate amounts of ethanol, others have not found such changes. Recent studies have also noted some positive effects of moderate ethanol consumption on cognitive performance in the aging human."[66]

Other diseases

  • Diabetes. Moderate drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes than non-drinkers. "Alcohol intake increases insulin sensitivity and may partly explain both the J-shaped relationship between the prevalence of diabetes and the amount of alcohol consumption and the decreased mortality for myocardial infarction."[67] "Compared with abstainers men who drank 30.0-49.9 g of alcohol daily had a relative risk of diabetes of 0.61."[68] "Consumption of 30 g/d of alcohol (2 drinks per day) has beneficial effects on insulin and triglyceride concentrations and insulin sensitivity in nondiabetic postmenopausal women."[69] After adjustment for age, randomized treatment assignment, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index, the relative risk estimates of diabetes for those reporting alcohol use of rarely/never were 1.00 (referent), 1 to 3 drinks per month 1.03, 1 drink per week 0.89, 2 to 4 drinks per week 0.74, 5 to 6 drinks per week 0.67, and 1 or more drinks per day 0.57.[70] "The results of this study suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, binge drinking and high alcohol consumption may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women."[71]
  • Essential tremors can be temporarily and dramatically relieved in up to two-thirds of patients by drinking small amounts of alcohol, thus avoiding the serious side effects of the most effective and expensive medications or the dangers of surgery. (Charles P. D., et al. Classification of tremor and update on treatment. American Family Physician, 1999, 59(6), 565-72; Bain, P. G., et al. A study of hereditary essential tremor. Brain, 1994, 117(Pt 4), 805-24 ; Lou, J.S., & Jankovic J. Essential tremor: clinical correlates in 350 patients. Neurology, 1991, 41(2 Pt 1), 234-8; Singer C, et al. Gait abnormality in essential tremor. Movement Disorders, 1994, 9(2), 193-6; Wasielewski PG, et al. Pharmacologic treatment of tremor. Movement Disorders, 1998, 13(Suppl 3), 90-100; Boecker, H., et al. The effect of ethanol on alcoholic-responsive essential tremors: a positron emission tomography study. Annals of Neurology, 1996, 39, 650-658, 1996; Setting a steady course for benign essential tremor. The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, 1999 (December), 11(10).)
  • Peptic ulcers. "These results suggest a protective effect of alcohol consumption against active infection with H pylori…".[72] Another study concluded, "Adjusting for other risk factors, alcohol intake (comparing those who drink > 30 gm of alcohol per day to nondrinkers) was not associated with higher risk of duodenal ulcer (RR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.42-1.29)."[73]
  • Gallstones. Research has found that drinking reduces the risk of developing gallstones. "Compared with alcohol abstainers, the relative risk of gallstone disease, controlling for age, sex, education, smoking, and body mass index, was 0.83 … for occasional and regular moderate drinkers (< 25 ml of ethanol per day), 0.67 … for intermediate drinkers (25-50 ml per day), and 0.58 … for heavy drinkers. This inverse association was consistent across strata of age, sex, and body mass index."[74] Frequency of drinking also appears to be a factor. "An increase in frequency of alcohol consumption also was related to decreased risk. Combining the reports of quantity and frequency of alcohol intake, a consumption pattern that reflected frequent intake (5-7 days/week) of any given amount of alcohol was associated with a decreased risk, as compared with nondrinkers. In contrast, infrequent alcohol intake (1-2 days/week) showed no significant association with risk. … Recommendations regarding the benefit of moderate quantities of alcohol for gallstone disease should be weighed against the potential health hazards of alcohol consumption."[75]
  • Gallbladder disease. Consumption of alcohol is unrelated to gallbladder disease.[76] However one study suggested that drinkers who take Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) might reduce their risk. "After adjustment for potential confounding variables, use of ascorbic acid supplements among drinkers was associated with a decreased prevalence of gallbladder disease … and cholecystectomy …. Use of ascorbic acid supplements among non-drinkers was not significantly associated with either prevalence of gallbladder disease or cholecystectomy. Further study is necessary to confirm our findings and, specifically, to examine the combined effects of ascorbic acid and alcohol on cholesterol metabolism."[77]
  • Kidney stones. Research indicates that drinking alcohol is associated with a lower risk of developing kidney stones. One study concludes, "Beer consumption was inversely associated with risk of kidney stones; each bottle of beer consumed per day was estimated to reduce risk by 40% …. Since beer seemed to be protective against kidney stones, the physiologic effects of other substances besides ethanol, especially those of hops, should also be examined."[78] "…consumption of coffee, alcohol, and vitamin C supplements were negatively associated with stones."[79] "After mutually adjusting for the intake of other beverages, the risk of stone formation decreased by the following amount for each 240-ml (8-oz) serving consumed daily: caffeinated coffee, 10%; decaffeinated coffee, 10%; tea, 14%; beer, 21%; and wine, 39%."[80] "…stone formation decreased by the following amount for each 240-mL (8-oz) serving consumed daily: 10% for caffeinated coffee, 9% for decaffeinated coffee, 8% for tea, and 59% for wine." (CI data excised from last two quotes.).[81]
  • Osteoporosis. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with higher bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. "…alcohol consumption significantly decreased the likelihood [of osteoporosis]."[82] "Moderate alcohol intake was associated with higher BMD [bone mineral density] in postmenopausal elderly women."[83] "Social drinking is associated with higher bone mineral density in men and women [over 45]."[84]
  • Spontaneous abortion is linked to alcohol consumption.


Health effect and type of alcohol consumed

A study concluded, "Results from observational studies, where alcohol consumption can be linked directly to an individual's risk of coronary heart disease, provide strong evidence that all alcoholic drinks are linked with lower risk. Thus, a substantial portion of the benefit is from alcohol rather than other components of each type of drink."[85]

Dr. Dean Edell writes that there are “differences of opinion about whether beer, wine, or liquor offers the quickest route to a longer life. Of ten major studies, one-third found this true for wine, one-third for beer, and one-third for liquor. Most researchers now believe that it is the alcohol in all of them that provides the magic, but they don’t rule out other components of alcoholic beverages”.[86]

One review suggests that red wine, particularly from areas of cold climate, seems to offer increased cardio-vascular protection and speculates that the effect results from polyphenols, chemical components contained in grape skin.[87]

Recommending alcohol consumption to "teetotalers"

Recommendation to an abstainer to become a moderate drinker is controversial because of the potential health hazards of alcohol abuse.[88]

"Given that there is a vast panoply of very effective and under-used cardiovascular drugs and that the beneficial effects of alcohol are small and ill-understood, all those present at the Novartis Foundation meeting concurred that global recommendations such as '1-3 drinks per day are good for you' are not only meaningless but also irresponsible."[89]

"People who choose not to drink alcohol should not be urged to drink to gain any potential health benefit… Non-drinkers can use other strategies, such as regular exercise, giving up smoking, and a healthy diet, to gain protection against heart disease."[90]

Comparison with health benefits of exercise and diet

Some of the benefits of moderate drinking can be obtained from having a low-fat diet, exercising regularly (for heart health), and eliminating excess salt from the diet. On the other hand, Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard reports that people have increases of 10 to 30 percent in HDL in a week from drinking alcohol. He says that “nothing else in the diet can have such a dramatic impact on HDL in such a short time”.[91]

Drinking alcohol in moderation can have a greater impact on reducing heart disease than any factor other than the cessation of smoking. And both drinking in moderation and not smoking contribute to the effectiveness of other lifestyle improvements.[92]

See also

  • Alcohol and cancer
  • Alcohol and cardiovascular disease
  • Alcohol and weight
  • Alcoholic beverages — recommended maximum intake
  • Effects of alcohol on the body
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • French paradox


  1. ^ Pearl, Raymond. Alcohol and Longevity. NY: Knopf, 1926.
  2. ^ Blackwelder, W. C., et al. Alcohol and mortality. The Honolulu Heart Study. American Journal of Medicine, 1980, 68(2), 164-169.
  3. ^ Hennekens, C.H. Alcohol and risk of coronary events. In: Zakhari, S., and Wassef, M., eds. Alcohol and the Cardiovascular System NIAAA Research Monograph No. 31. NIH Pub. No. 96-4133. Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1996. pp. 15-24.
  4. ^ Yuan, Jian-Min; Ross, Ronald K; Gao, Yu-Tang; Henderson, Brian E; Yu, Mimi C Follow up study of moderate alcohol intake and mortality among middle aged men in Shanghai, China British Medical Journal, 1997, 314, 18-23.
  5. ^ BBC Alcohol benefits debunked
  6. ^ Russell, Sabin UCSF points out flaw in studies tying alcohol to heart health San Francisco Chronicle March 30, 2006
  7. ^ Dr. Tim Naimi's research
  8. ^ Cabot, R.C. "The relation of alcohol to arterioscleroisis" Journal of the American Medical Association, 1904, "43", 774-775.
  9. ^ a b Mennen LI, Balkau B, Vol S, Caces E, Eschwege E. Fibrinogen may explain in part the protective effect of moderate drinking on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Arteriosclerotic and Thrombodic Vascular Biology 1999 Apr;19(4):887-92
  10. ^ Paassilta Marita; Kervinen, Kari; Rantala, Asko O; Savolainen, Markku J; Lilja, Mauno; Reunanen, Antti; Kesäniemi, Y Antero Social alcohol consumption and low Lp(a) lipoprotein concentrations in middle aged Finnish men: population based study British Medical Journal 1998 February 14; 316(7131): 594–595
  11. ^ Davidson, Dennis M Cardiovascular Effects of Alcohol Western Journal of Medicine 1989 October; 151(4): 430–439
  12. ^ Rimm, Eric B; Williams, Paige; Fosher, Kerry; Criqui, Michael; Stampfer, Meir J Moderate alcohol intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of effects on lipids and haemostatic factors British Medical Journal 1999;319:1523-1528 (11 December)
  13. ^ Ely SW, Berne RM Protective effects of adenosine in myocardial ischemia Circulation, 1992 Mar;85(3):893-904 This paper appears to say nothing about alcohol
  14. ^ Facchini F, Chen YD, Reaven GM Light-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity Diabetes Care 1994 Feb;17(2):115-9
  15. ^ Thun MJ, Peto R, Lopez AD, Monaco JH, Henley SJ, Heath CW Jr, Doll R Alcohol consumption and mortality among middle-aged and elderly U.S. adults New England Journal of Medicine 1997 Dec 11;337(24):1705-14
  16. ^ Langer RD, Criqui MH, Reed DM Lipoproteins and blood pressure as biological pathways for effect of moderate alcohol consumption on coronary heart disease Circulation 1992 Mar;85(3):910-5
  17. ^ Zhang QH, Das K, Siddiqui S, Myers AK Effects of acute, moderate ethanol consumption on human platelet aggregation in platelet-rich plasma and whole blood Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2000 Apr;24(4):528-34
  18. ^ U.S. Government: Moderate Drinking Benefits Health
  19. ^ Ellison, R. C. Does Moderate Alcohol Consumption Prolong Life? American Council on Science and Health, New York: 1993. (link is to review of book)
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Not found online yet

  • Trevisan, M., et al. Drinking pattern and mortality: a longitudinal study; Gaziano, J. M., et al. A prospective cohort study of moderate alcohol consumption and sudden death in the Physicians' Health Study. Abstract . The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, June, 1997, volume 13, Supplement B.

External links

  • Alcohol and Health: Current Evidence. Boston University/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Journal
  • Alcohol-Attributable Deaths Report, United States 2001
Search Term: "Alcohol_consumption_and_health"